Gerrymandering and Voting Districts

Further on the Supreme Court’s considering a Wisconsin gerrymandering case, and that dredges up some thoughts in my pea brain.

Taking the Federal government as my canonical example, I suggest the following to saucer and blow the whole gerrymandering question.  Each State should be divided into squares having substantially equal numbers of citizens resident.  Then, starting with four squares sharing a common corner that is at the geographic center of the State, add squares around the four, building outward in that fashion to the State’s borders, deviating from the square and the square’s straight-line sides only at those borders.

Notice that these squares utterly ignore all demographic considerations beyond the number of citizens resident in the State, the number of Representatives allocated to the State, and the number of citizens resident in each district.  That is, to repeat from my earlier post, what’s specified in the 14th Amendment, Section 2:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers….


…when the right to vote at any election…is denied to any of the male inhabitants…the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens….

That apportionment is according the number of individuals, not to any community, whether urban or rural or neighborhood, nor to ethnicity, political party affiliation, or any other criterion of demography.  In fine, a vote is an individual affair, not a community one, not a collective one, not a party one.  Indeed, further demographic apportion than “citizen” is illegitimate: all Americans are the same in the eyes of the law, and voting is a matter of the supreme Law of the Land.  All voters look alike in the polling station.

Note one more thing: such a district structure—any district structure, whether simple or gerrymandered—is essentially a political decision and so beyond the purview of any court to mandate.  It would be interesting, though, to see lower courts—perhaps a couple of appellate courts—explicitly require squares, anyway.  Such a ruling almost certainly would spark a nationwide political discussion on the matter and on the matter of voter representation generally, culminating in an explicit political decision on the proper way to draw voting districts.

With that decision, the Supreme Court then could declare the matter mooted and forestall a potful of fundamentally (and too often cynically) divisive lawsuits like the present Whitford v Gill, and like Davis v Bandemer, Vieth v Jubelirer, and others before them.

Of course, I believe in the Easter Bunny, too….

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